I’m not a big fan of the razzmatazz,
No glitz or glam, no bright-red shiny nails,
Or glittery gold objects for pizzazz.
In jeans and t-shirt I’m a fashion fail.
The red carpet its hungry cameras.
Bright lights and renown? Not what I have sought.
Fame, flash and fortune are just chimeras.
Making is the magic; it can’t be bought.
The muses work in ways that no one sees.
Ideas come in solitary walks,
Away from human noise, on foot, on skis,
Under clouds and sky, inspiration talks.
A fancy suit hangs in my closet, draped
In plastic — the symbol of less free days.


This poem was kind of inspired by an appointment I made to see the eye doctor, a new eye doctor. When I called, he answered the phone. He kept saying, “I know I know you. I’ve heard your name, anyway. Where?”

Finally I said, “Well, I was famous in 2019.”

“What do you mean you were famous?”

“I wrote a book about teaching in China. There were a couple of articles in the paper and I did two interviews on the radio. Maybe that’s where.”

“That could be it, yeah.”

I honestly LOVED saying, “I was famous in 2019.” It just cracked me up.


The poem is a Shakespearean sonnet, though I’m not a fetishist about iambic pentameter since it’s the natural rhythm of the English language anyway. Iambic pentameter is ba-BOOM, ba-BOOM for ten syllables. A Shakespearean sonnet is 14 lines with the scheme of ababcdcdefefgg. It’s easy for a dyslexic person like me who’s likely to mess up the rhyme scheme if it has too many variables. The story is that Shakespeare wrote his sonnets like this because the traditional Italian sonnet (the Petrarchan sonnet) is immensely challenging in English because of the natural rhythm of English vs. the natural rhythm of Italian. I don’t know if this is true or not but I’m buying it anyway.

15 thoughts on “Fame

  1. I LOVE this one! Oh yes and yes again! Not only the sonnet but the commentary – I too was famous (I think I was shorted 10 minutes)… when the Arts section ran a half page with a big photo of my ugliest orb! Hehe! After that I decided that I really wasn’t a good judge of my own work.

    • I got a couple months of fame, but this is a small (in population) community and the book was really a big deal. I was really truly honored and touched by the attention it got. I loved the irony of it as much as anything else. I never imagined when I was in China where I would be 40 some years later. Life’s just pretty amazing.

  2. I enjoyed your poem…and I always learn something from your posts that I never learned in any English class. So I thank you for that! I have a couple of dresses “wrapped in plastic” and it’s been at least 7 years or more since I wore one. Gotta love those jeans – still!
    I think maybe I was famous for 5 minutes a few years ago when (after 9 months) I managed to get the town to finally put up a street sign for our private road which was even hard to locate on google maps. Persistent am I.

    • That’s really cool an useful fame. I had some useful fame briefly, too, when I tried to get an amendment to the dog ordinance passed. Didn’t succeed immediately (old boys’ club). But, finally…

  3. Hey, enjoy that fame whenever it comes!

    Love the sonnet. Can totally relate. I’m a fashion disaster/fail because comfort trumps all (i.e. clothes are loose and “unflattering”) and I never wear makeup. So sue me!

    • I really enjoyed that fame in 2019. It was a lot of fun and led to some lovely moments. ❤ My clothes are unflattering, too, but I figure they're clean and that's all anyone can ask.

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